The rate of opioid addiction and overdose in Winnipeg continues to rise, but the much-needed services to provide people with the resources to curb their addiction are not only not keeping up with demand – they are falling below. There aren?t many public services around Winnipeg for those who need help to recover from addiction. For drug recovery, the most lacking service is detoxification for those who are on heavy drugs. There is currently only one place that deals publicly with detoxification; with only 11 beds available, most addicts could literally wait a lifetime to get in.
The 11 beds are allocated to detox only the ?most serious? of Winnipeg?s drug addicts – but that pretty much describes most of the drug-addicted population. Those who need detoxification can have a spot if they come in with severe withdrawal symptoms, but to even get to that point is not possible for most addicts. The only way to be accepted into the 11 spaces that are open is if your withdrawal symptoms are medically dangerous and life-threatening.
The best rates of addiction recovery happen in those places that are well-equipped, but unfortunately, most of those are private and expensive. Most privately-run recovery programs range from 30-45 days and are serene and calming in nature – which is the exact opposite of what the 11 beds open to the public provide. Private facilities are split off into three sections; detox is one of those areas, not a separate entity.
The detoxification portion of drug addiction is one of the largest hurdles for anyone who wants to recover. It isn?t just an overnight stay or hardship. Once they make it through the detox portion, they must go on to counseling that can be up to 45 hours a week in both one-on-one therapy and group counseling. Each client is given their own plan of action and road to recovery; it isn?t a one-size-fits-all program.
Those who aren?t lucky enough to afford private Winnipeg drug rehab, must rely on public recovery programs, which are insufficient – and to some populations, nonexistent. According to the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction, the cost of rehabilitation is on the rise. Hospitalizing people has increased over $267 million in just five years. That number is only likely to increase with growing rates of epidemic use and no real way to deal with the growing problem or having programs aimed at prevention.
Vaccines might be the answer
Researchers are working on developing vaccines to curb drug addiction. These work by tricking the immune system to block the effects of the controlled substance, so that the addict won?t get a high from whatever they use. After the vaccine is given, the body produces antibodies against the drug to limit its effect. That means that if vaccines are created to curb the drug addiction problem in Winnipeg, then it could help to stop those addicted to alcohol and drugs from craving what they need to get high.
Addiction is a disease that originates in the brain, which is what makes it so hard to target. Even if a person does get a spot in the very limited public detox program, that won?t stop the brain from craving the very drug that they worked so hard to get out of their system. Drugs like cocaine and opioids affect the brain by limiting the production of dopamine, which takes away a person?s ability to ?feel good.?
Although therapy helps to overcome addiction, if vaccines could stop the brain from craving the substance in the first place, it could have a huge impact on drug and alcohol addiction in Winnipeg, and help to minimize the carnage caused by overdosing or the need for hospital stays. Although researchers have been hard at work for almost a decade, vaccines are still in their infancy. Until they can be successfully developed, there needs to be more concentration on getting people the resources they need to overcome addiction.
With only those 11 beds for detox in Winnipeg, and those needing drug rehabilitation the most not having access to public or private drug rehabilitation programs, prevention and vaccines appear to be the best chance that Canadian residents have at beating their drug addiction. But until vaccines can be developed, more resources need to be devoted to giving drug addicts the services they need to survive.